Monday, May 31, 2010

So what was my Blammo anyway?

I received a lot of questions about yesterday's blog post:

1.  When did Blammo happen?
2.  How did it happen?
3.  What was it exactly that you did then that you hadn't been doing before?

I can tell you exactly when, where, and what my Blammo were because that day is etched quite clearly in my brain.  Sit down little children and granny will tell you a story:

220lbs.  Leftover Gestational Diabetes that has taken on a life of it's own long after the baby has left the body.  Lots of binging on sugar.  Lots of Emotional Eating.  Although I knew I was really fat, I couldn't really understand what everyone else was making such a fuss over?  Did I really look THAT different?

But what could I do?  Every time I tried to diet I would end up binging even more and getting even fatter so I knew that was no solution.  Exercise wasn't really an option because everything hurt.  I had plantar fascitis in my feet, my knees and hips were always sore, I had the cardio capacity of a marshmallow.

The dialogue in my head went something like this:
"I am too tired to fight this anymore.  Nothing works.  Seeing as I have been some degree of over-weight almost my entire life, maybe this is just how my body is?  Maybe I am fighting a useless battle?  I will always be big, so maybe it is time to accept that and make the best of it."

I did not know it then, but I had just hit rock bottom.  Rock bottom doesn't always feel bad.  Actually I felt pretty good at that moment of surrender.  Like when suicidal people finally set a date for their suicide and their loved ones later report how happy they seemed in the days that led up to their deaths.

It turns out that Surrender is the KEY here actually to what was about to happen.  When you Surrender, your defenses go down.  When your walls are down you can hear things that maybe you were unable to hear before.

I went off to the Library.  As far as I am concerned, The Library contains all the answers anyone could ever seek.  That day, I was looking for books on Fat Acceptance.  If I was going to be fat, heck yeah, I would do it in style.  I sat there pouring over pictures of smiling overweight models in chunky necklaces and brightly colored scarves and wondering if there was anyone in the world who really believed that "drawing the eye upwards" could disguise the fact that 200lbs lurked below the neck.

A growing sense of discomfort was stirring in my soul.  This little tiny voice was whispering "not-me-not-me-not-me...."

I scooped the books up intending to check them out for a closer look at home.  On the way to the circulation desk, something drew me aside to the Self-Help section.  Tony Robbins was leering out from the cover of his latest book.  I chuckled and thought "do people really read that stuff?"  My hand is reaching for it, I am opening it, I flip randomly to a page and feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  Find an empty carrel, drop the fat books in a heap, take out a sheet of paper and a pen and start working through an exercise called "who do I want to be" or some such.

For about an hour I wrote who I want to be.  I wrote about how I wanted to look, what sort of things I wanted to do with my life, and what I thought was my place in the world.  Then Tony asked "What is stopping you?"  Well, I'm fat, I binge, I can't control my sugar intake, I am obsessed with eating and dieting.

Tony:  Is it a good trade?  Are the choices you are making BETTER than the reality you are trading them for? 

Blammo, to me, felt like Tony Robbins whacking me upside the head with a plank of wood.

Tony snuck his cheesy, inspirational self into my brain precisely at that moment when my defenses were down.  I could see clearly for the first time ever that the CHOICES and HABITS I engaged in on a daily basis were bringing me the opposite result of ALL the things in the world I ever wanted.  Changing the behavior would change the outcome.  I had heard this a million times before but this was the first time I really got it:  Was I going to lay down and accept defeat and live the next 60 years being this stranger hiding behind chunky necklaces, or was I going to fight for the person who lives inside of me who is full of beauty and life and has awesome, fun, exciting things to do in this world?  Not that fat people can't be beautiful or have great lives, I just knew that I, as a fat person, wouldn't.

Here's what happened next:  The HOW didn't matter anymore because I had a WHY.  Karen Knowler calls this "Your Big Why" and says that no goal can be reached without one.  In all my past attempts I had focused all my energy on the "How": lists of good vs bad foods, how many calories would I need to take in and how many would I need to burn, should I mix carbs with protein, eat low-carb, eat low-fat, dairy-free or dairy-rich, raw, vegan, atkins, south beach....  that's all "How" stuff, it doesn't really matter and it can take you off course.

"Why" trumps "How".  "Why" clears the deck, shows you the path, put blinders on the sides of your vision to eliminate distractions, and kicks boulders out of the way.  "Why" is different for every person and will be different at different times of one's life.  Again, to paraphrase Karen Knowleryour "Why" has to be big enough and juicy enough to give you goosebumps and make you want to RUN to it in an all-out sprint.

One more example:  If you are operating on "How", when someone passes a plate of your favorite food you think "Arg! I wish I could have that!  I am so deprived all the time, it's not fair, I deserve to have some fun too! waaaah!" All the pleasure is in that FOOD and all the pain is in saying No.  That. Is. Hard.

When your super exciting "WHY" is in charge and that plate of favorites comes around, you say "No the F-k Way!"  (sorry, but my "Why" swears like a sailor)  "What I am working for is so much more delicious and wonderful than that food could ever taste that I am not even tempted.  Be gone with you Dream Stealing Cupcake!" and you are so happy that you want to dance around like a Pussycat Doll singing "hahaha...hahaha"

So to wrap it up, I think our consciousness has all these layers.  We just have to keep peeling the layers until we get to the one that makes the difference.  And then, we have to keep peeling after that too because things are always changing.  That's pretty much the process I take clients through.  Sure we talk about brown rice and spinach, but I know that for most people that's the "How" stuff.  It sure can help, but I more important is helping them eek out their delectable "Why."

You know, as I went through the process of writing the last two posts, I think I peeled away the layer with the stomachache.  Maybe that'll be my next post...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Spirit of Fortitude

Yesterday I finished reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  It got me thinking.  The story, basically, is about an extremely dysfunctional family:  parents who are unfit to parent, and their kids who could have followed in their depressing legacy of alcoholism, poverty, and hopelessness, but instead rose up and built adult lives of achievement and financial security.

I adore stories of people over-coming the odds.  I always root for the underdog.  I am utterly captivated and fascinated by the process whereby one decides to push past the barriers and accomplish the seemingly impossible.  I am totally obsessed with it, if you want to know the truth.

Lucky for me, it's also my job.

Day after day, I meet women who have been trying all of their lives to reduce their size and become the slim woman they dream of.  Not just slim of course, but also at peace with food, no longer hungry, no longer obsessed, no longer a slave to counting each calorie eaten and burned.  These women have been working on this ONE unaccomplished goal for 15, 20, 40 or even 50 years.  They have met with so much other achievement in life - phenomenal careers, the raising of amazing children, over-coming heartbreak, disease, financial crumble - and yet this one goal of SLIM has never been reached.  Or, even sadder, it has been reached briefly and then lost again.  Those woman forever cling to the memories of that brief shining moment when they were who they always wanted to be.

By the time they come to me, most women have usually tried a million diets and workout plans, some sensible, some crazy, each one going to be THE THING that will finally bring them what they want.

And it's not like they didn't try!  Holy cow, these are the strongest, bravest, most tenacious and stubborn women you will ever meet!  They work their asses off in pursuit of this one single all-consuming goal.  But it evades them time after time.

I often hear them say "I am so frustrated by this, I could just scream!" or "I just do not have the strength to give this one more try."

I get it.  I know this pain too.  I have been there too.  I screamed and cried and pounded my fists and pleaded with The Creator to please let me have this one thing I wanted so badly from the time I was 16 years old and chubbier than the rest of the girls.

And one day, seemingly out of the blue, I turned it around for myself.  One day "blammo" it all became clear and all I had to do was walk the walk.  Everything else fell away and step by step I walked all the way to my goal and stayed there.

But why?  What made me have "blammo" and why don't some other people have it?  Why do some of my clients sit across from me and I watch quite literally as their entire expression changes and they take this big deep breath and say "I get it.  I'm going to be OK now" and suddenly all the power they were using on the "battle" gets channeled into the success?  Yet others sadly go on struggling and fighting and doing the one-step-forward-one-step-back dance?

I wish I knew.  If I knew the answer to this question, I would bestow it on the world for all to share.  I study the question constantly.  I read book after book on the psychology of achievement and motivation, I pick the brains of my clients who have gotten it.  I ask "What was it that finally got through to you?" and they all say "I don't know." which is what I say too. 

For a long time, I was obsessed with survival literature.  You know, stories of the folks who get lost in the wilderness or in a disaster and some live and some die.  In the fascinating book Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why by Laurence Gonzales, the author puts forth that there is some internal survival mechanism that only about 10% of the population seem to possess.  They do not see Death as an Option.

They do not see Death as an Option.

I did not see Fat as an Option.

I looked in the mirror and said "NO!  This isn't me.  This is not my life and I don't care how hard I have to work and how long it might take, I will never, ever, EVER give up, give in, or accept a different conclusion than the one I seek."


When the chips are down.  When it feels as though the entire world is against you.  When you have failed a billion trillion times.  When you think you have no strength left.  When you feel so humiliated you can't even look yourself in the eye.  When you are lost at sea in a tiny life boat.  Will you be the one to accept the fate that seems inevitable?  Or will you be the one to scrape your own guts off the pavement, stand up and say "NO, I am not finished yet."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Enormous Veggies

First let me just say that I still don't know anything about why I feel bad.  Not to freak my American readers out, but when you live in a country with socialized medicine and you are not deathly ill, things can take awhile.  I figure that by the time I get a diagnosis, I will be all better anyway.  That's fine with me.

And really I am feeling better.  I have heard from many people that there has been lots of stomach stuff "going around" and that it has been worse this year for whatever reason, so probably that's all it is.  I find it funny (and a bit aggravating) when people say to me "You of all people to get a stomach problem?!" as if I am some paragon of food purity and perfection.  I have never claimed to be that nor do I want the title!  And I am just as capable of catching a bacteria, virus, parasite, whatever, as anyone else.  Remember when many people got e coli from eating spinach??  I rest my case.

I was having a discussion awhile back with Christy about how they sell leeks here in Israel.  Like many vegetables here, the leeks are GIANT.  Here is my son holding both giant leek and giant celery:

and what it looked like in my shopping cart:
So basically, you pay for that entire thing and then the cashier generously offers to whack off the top 1/2 and throw it away for you.  After you have already paid for it, mind you.  Today I asked her to leave it on b/c I wanted it for this picture and she looked at my like I've got 3 heads.  Right, I'm strange for wanting to keep the garbage I've already paid for.

Here is what the leeks ultimately became:

Pasta with Roast Veggies and lots of garlic, yummy!

And you know it's summer b/c cherries are here!!  I loooooove cherries. 

I had to choose between sending my eldest to college and buying these costly morsels, but you know, college is over-rated.

Lastly, I wanted to report on my fermentation experiment:

The sourdough didn't really work out.  It made a fine dough and it tasted good, but it just wouldn't rise very much.  I ended up making pizza dough out of it, which was perfect.  But I threw the rest of the starter away and will give it another try from scratch.

The kimchee however, came out fine.  I don't love how it tastes - it is VERY spicy for me - but I do love how it makes me feel when I eat it.  It's a lot like how I feel after I drink kombucha, sort of calm and settled and my belly feels really good.  This is how I made the kimchee:

1 head cabbage, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 T ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 green onion, chopped
5 cups water
2 T sea salt
2 tsp natural sweetener (optional - I didn't use any)

In a large non-metallic bowl, combine cabbage, water, 1 1/2 T salt, and carrots.  Set aside for 12 hours.  Remove the cabbage and carrots from the soaking liquid and put them into a jar.  To the liquid, add the remaining salt, ginger, garlic, scallions and sweetener is using.  Pour this over the veggies.  Cover the jar with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band and let side 3-7 days.  Eat a little bit as a digestive aid with your meals.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

FeeFiFoFum, I smell the blood of a Vegetari-un

Thanks so much everyone for all the get well messages!  I don't have any answers yet, but as the lab results come in, I can certainly share what is good about them.  Here are some of my blood values from now compared to one year ago, before the 100-day vegan challenge:

Glucose:  1-yr ago = 85     today = 84
(In 2001 I was bringing in blood sugar numbers way over 100 and brought it down with diet and weight loss, so yay me!  And I just want to point out that I get these kind of blood sugar numbers even though I am eating a lower-protein, whole grain carb and fruit-heavy VEGAN diet.  You don't have to go low-carb to control your blood sugar, folks!)

Total Cholesterol:  1-yr ago = 162     today = 156

HDL:  1=yr ago = 69   today = 61

LDL:  1-yr ago = 84  today 83

Triglycerides:  1-yr ago = 44     today = 50

So all that's pretty great, right?  I'm probably not going to get diabetes or die of heart disease in the near future.  Unfortunately, the panel gets less brag-tastic after that.  I don't know what a lot of it means so I'll wait to get more info before I blab on.

But enough about me...

So before I get into the whole Fermentation discussion, I wanted to share a recent recipe.  These are Banana-Orange-Corn Pancakes and Strawberry Sauce.  The kids loved 'em!

Banana-Orange Corn Pancakes
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 banana, mashed
3 eggs
juice of one orange
pinch of cinnamon
few sprinkles of any whole grain flour to make a thick batter

Mix together all the ingredients.  Fry em up in a lightly oiled pan and serve with or without...

Strawberry Sauce
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1/4 cup water
1 T ground flaxseeds or agar agar powder to thicken

Blend all in blender to desired thickness.

Next subject is Fermentation:
So, what's the deal with fermented stuff and why would I want to eat it?  Fermented things are pickles, pickled vegetables, kimchee, kefir, sauerkraut, sourdough bread starter, rejuvelac, kombucha, yogurt, etc.  These are all kinds of different items that we can make in our homes and as they ferment, they are enriched with helpful yeasts and bacterias from the air, such as the all-important Lactobacillus acidophilus.  Sure you can buy these products from the store, but then they will be pasteurized and it's questionable how many of the good germs survive the process.  All of those good bacteria help us with proper digestion and keep harmful diseases and other bacteria in control. 

In fact, whatever my problem is health wise at the moment, is probably due to some of the bad guys who have run rampant and done some damage.  Most digestive disorders, such as Crohn's, IBS, ulcer, Colitis, chronic diarrhea, bloating and gas, leaky gut syndrome, food allergies and intolerances, parasitic infection, Celiac, Candida, and even some cancers, often take hold in a poor digestive flora environment.  If you were not breastfed, have taken a lot of antibiotics in your life, have eaten a poor diet with lots of sugar and processed foods, or have been on hormonal birth control for a long time, you too may have an imbalance in your gut bacteria.

I have long wanted to try making some of these items and getting sick has been the impetus to get on it.  Here we have some sourdough starter bubbling along...

and here is some kimchee

I will let you know how they come out.  I'm a little dubious about the sourdough.  I can't decide if it smells horrible (which means it got invaded by bad bacteria) or if just smells sourdough-y?  At any rate, if these turn out good and I don't kill myself eating them, I will definitely pass along the recipes and how-to. 

If you are a successful fermenter yourself, PLEASE share your tips and advice with me and the readers!

(Disclaimer:  Remember folks, I am not a doctor and whatever you read here is my opinion.  Always, use your own common sense and the advice of a trusted medical practitioner!)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The truth about what's been going on

Blogs are funny things.  The main reason I started this blog is so that clients and potential clients could get to know me better on a more personal level than what comes through on my business website.  I found out that I love writing it and get some really nice feedback from all kinds of people who have been inspired to make changes in their lives and health, in part by something they read here.  So that's really cool.

But the "funny" part comes in with how much to share?  I'm never really quite sure.  There is this desire to share everything, but that's dumb because anyone in the world could read this.  Right?  But then not sharing anything at all feels dishonest too.  Is it better to be more transparent even if it exposes that all is not rosy behind my curtain?  I sure hope so, because that's what I've decided to do...

Why have I not been keeping up with my blogging like I was before?  The truth is that I haven't been feeling well.  It's awfully hard to write about "Glowing Health and Vitality" when you feel quite a bit less than glowing and vital.  And since I've been living on applesauce and rice porridge for several weeks, there hasn't been much to photograph either. 

I haven't actually been sick for years and it's kind of a blow for someone who prides themselves on exceptional self-care, to feel less than excellent.  I kept trying to heal myself without a doctor, but finally gave in today and went for a series of tests.  I was impressed with the scope of tests ordered and both hope and don't hope that something will turn up to answer my questions.

Frankly, I can't wait to feel like myself again!  Nothing makes you appreciate feeling fantastic every day like NOT feeling fantastic every day.

There, I said it. 

How long do you think it will be before my mom writes me an angry email that says "How come you didn't tell me you're sick?!"

In other random, unrelated news:

1.  I just took over the moderation of a yahoo group I have long been a member of.  If you live in Israel, or have some connection to Israel, and are into all things Holistic Health/Enviornment, please join us here:

2.  Through a message posted to the above forum, I found out about this: , a chance to pledge one small eco-change you'd like to make each month.  I haven't yet decided what mine will be, there are so many:

-  I would like to make a complete change over from chemical cleaners, detergents, soaps and shampoos to all natural, homemade ones.  (This is hard as my husband does most of the cleaning and the man is ADDICTED to bleach!)

-  I would also like to start fermenting my own foods: sauerkraut, sourdough, kombucha, pickles, kimchee...

-I would like to devote more time to yoga and meditation.

-I would like to plant herbs in my window box and not kill them.

-I would like to treat my dog's sad summer skin condition without resorting to steroids.

So, I'm not quite sure where to start but I'm working on it.  Let me know if you join the challenge and what you will pledge to undertake for one month!

3.  I think I already mentioned this, but my brother-in-law is designing me a new website that will have blog and website and all sorts of cool stuff all in one place.  I am looking forward to greatly expanding my services to a broader international market when we get that up and running.  Fun times ahead!

4.  Even though I feel like the bottom of a shoe, I am going to try my dadgummitiest to cook some cool food and blog about it and maybe write some non-food related holistic wellness posts.  Deal?  Thanks for being patient with me in the meantime.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Plate Dynamics

One of the methods I teach clients to ensure they are eating a healthy, weight-loss promoting diet, is what I call Plate Dynamics.  It goes like this:  Take your plate and divide it in half.  Fill one half with non-starchy vegetables, cooked or raw.  On the 2nd half, split it in half again.  Fill 1/4 with protein and 1/4 with starchy carbohydrate.  Do this whenever you eat.  It's that simple and it looks like this:
That's Red Lentil Stew, Mashed Potatoes with loads of garlic and onions, and Steamed Swiss Chard with scallions and sesame seeds.  (Somehow this entire meal was mushy?)

Here are today's other eats:

Smoothie Ingredients:  Red Cabbage, Blueberries, Pear, Coconut Milk and Flax-Pumpkin Seed Blend

It blended up like this:

By the time I remembered to photograph my lunch, which was Vegan Caesar Salad from the 21-Day Detox Program, the bowl looked like this:

It was super yum.  Come to the next 21-day Detox if you want the recipe!

And here is a creation by my youngest son.  I didn't see him make or eat this, or photograph it, but here it was on the camera when I uploaded the other pics:

Isn't that cute?!  I think I see a cucumber mouth, an avocado nose, radish eyes with mustard eyeballs, alfalfa sprout hair, and believe it or not, I think those are horseradish cheeks!  My little one is a spicy freak - the spicier the better.  He has certainly not inherited this trait from moi.

OK, so enough food talk.  I NEED A NEW CHALLENGE PEOPLE!!!
(See this post to understand why I am so addicted to challenges.)

A bunch of my friends are doing a Dr Fuhrman Eat to Live Challenge, and I am tempted to join them.  But Dr Fuhrman scares me ever since the Anti-Cancer Soup kitchen fiasco.  Perhaps I could overcome those fears?  Engine 2, another low-fat vegan plan, has online meal plans and that could be fun...

But I'd also love to do another 40-day yoga that I actually finish this time...

I'm going to give this some thought and see what I can come up with.
If there is anything YOU would like to read about, please let me know!